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Cork Con's Crowley starts at 10 as Ireland U20s begin Grand Slam defence

Noel McNamara has picked five of last year’s crop to start this year’s Six Nations, all in the pack.

Crowley runs out for a Celtic Cup match at Musgrave Park last year.
Crowley runs out for a Celtic Cup match at Musgrave Park last year.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

IRELAND U20 HEAD coach Noel McNamara has unveiled his starting line-up for the 2020 Six Nations.

The 2019 Grand Slam winners will this year be led by Ulster’s David McCann and the skipper will be flanked by Leinster pair Mark Hernan and Sean O’Brien for tomorrow’s opener against Scotland in Cork (kick-off 19.15, RTE 2).

Ulster wing Ethan McIlroy is the only player with senior professional experience. Former Bandon schoolboy Jack Crowley will steer the side from number 10 with Ulster’s Lewis Finlay earning the nod to join him at half-back while Leinster’s Ben Murphy and Tim Corkery are among the replacements.

Both of McNamara’s centres for the opener are former Exiles. Hayden Hyde made the move from Harlequins to Ulster last year, while 13 Dan Kelly was recruited through IQ Rugby and is currently with Loughborough University.

Vice captain Thomas Clarkson will prop up a relatively experienced tight five with Charlie Ward also packing down in front of fellow second-year U20s Thomas Ahern and Brian Deeny in the second row.

Ireland U20 (v Scotland)

15. Oran McNulty (Millfield School / Corinthians RFC / Connacht)
14. Ethan McIlroy (Methody College / Queens RFC / Ulster)
13. Dan Kelly (Kirkham Grammar / Loughborogh University / IQ Rugby)
12. Hayden Hyde (Cranleigh School / Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
11. Andrew Smith (St Michael’s College / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
10. Jack Crowley (Bandon RFC / Cork Constitution FC / Munster)
9. Lewis Finlay (Down High School / Malone RFC / Ulster)

1. Charlie Ward (Tullow RFC / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
2. Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy / Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
3. Thomas Clarkson (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
4. Brian Deeny (Wexford Wanderers / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
5. Thomas Ahern (Waterpark RFC / Shannon RFC / Munster)
6. Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
7. Mark Hernan (St Michael’s College / Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
8. David McCann (RBAI / Banbridge RFC / Ulster)(captain)

Replacements:

16. John McKee (Campbell College / Old Belvedere / Leinster)
17. Ciaran Ryan (Rockwell College / Cashel RFC / Munster)
18. Ryan McMahon (Clongowes Wood College / Old Belvedere RFC / Leinster)
19. Joe McCarthy (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
20. Alexis Soroka (Belvedere College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
21. Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
22. Tim Corkery (Kilkenny RFC / UCD / Leinster)
23. Luis Faria (Newpark Comprehensive / Dublin University FC / Leinster).

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Sean Farrell

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